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Patrick Springer, Published January 23 2010

Calls to remind parents of second H1N1 dose

Parents of children in North Dakota who had their first swine flu vaccination are likely to get a phone call reminding them to get their kids in for the second dose.

Public health officials, worried that the lull in the H1N1 epidemic could breed complacency, urge parents to be sure they get the second vaccination – crucial to trigger effective immunity.

Children who are at least 6 months but have not yet had their 10th birthday require two swine flu vaccination shots.

“That second shot is really important for the immune response,” said Abbi Pierce, immunization surveillance coordinator for the North Dakota Department of Health.

Calls to more than 18,500 North Dakota households have gone out to remind parents to get their children in for a second dose.

Parents should not be complacent, said Dr. Carol Baker, a pediatrician and immediate past president of the National Foundation for Infectious diseases.

Even previously healthy children can succumb to H1N1, which has claimed the lives of more than 250 children in the U.S., she said.

“Everybody needs a second shot to be protected,” Baker said. “If you don’t have a second shot, you’re not protected.”

Although swine flu infections have subsided, public health officials fear a third wave is possible, as happened in the 1957 flu pandemic, which fell in December before flaring in February and March.

“This should be a priority,” said Baker, who is at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Complacency is really the big enemy.”

Guidelines call for the second inoculation about a month after the first dose to provide full protection.

The latest figures, as of Jan. 12, indicate that 66 percent of children vaccinated against the swine flu in North Dakota have not had their second dose.

In Minnesota, 28 percent of children who got their first dose as of Dec. 1 reported a follow-up dose by Jan. 5.

“People have been presenting at our clinics seeking that second shot,” said Kathy Anderson, director of nursing for Clay County Public Health.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522